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Stoyanov: only one solution for JEF

2 Jul 2007(Mon)

June 29, 2007: Losing Ivica Osim; losing GM Ubagai and captain Abe; sliding down the table; now losing Stoyanov...

It has not been a good 12 months for JEF United Chiba.

There was, sadly, no other conclusion to the Stoyanov issue than the club terminating his contract.

He had come out in public and criticised head coach Amar Osim, and with it the club as a whole.

When Stoyanov refused to apologise, there was only course of action open -- to get rid of him.

I feel -- but may be wrong -- that Amar has been close to being fired this season, notably after the home defeat by Gamba on May 26.

But once Stoyanov had spoken out, the club could not be seen to be following the wishes of one, in their eyes, "rebel" player. This would look like the club was being run by the players, not by the management.

With the situation at deadlock, the club had to act first and make a strong statement, which was to kick out the rebel, no matter how good a player he was, or how much he was idolised by the fans.

So JEF have lost again -- at home again, you might say, because this was a homegrown problem.

I have to admit being a fully paid-up member of the Stoyanov fan club (emotionally, that is, not financially), as he was -- still is -- a wonderful football player.

He is a true libero, possessing the skill of two players.

I used to love watching him play; taking the ball off the keeper and spraying a 50-metre pass on to the toe end of Yamagishi on the left or Mizuno on the right.

But he was at his best, his most elegant, when moving forward, beating two or three men at a time as easily as an Austrian alpine skier glides through the gates of a slalom course. Then he would play a neat one-two and advance on goal, before shooting just as comfortably with left foot or right.

Defensively he used to trick and tease opposing forwards, allowing them to think they had a bit of time and space before making his move. He would time his tackle to perfection, always staying on his feet, and whip the ball away from the striker in a flash of yellow.

At the top of his game, Stoyanov was a different class to anything else in the J.League. He would make it look so easy it was almost funny to watch.

There was no denying, however, that he was a bit of a hot-head on the pitch. Off the pitch, his biggest mistake was to go public with his feelings and put the club in an impossible position.

The final result? Another defeat for JEF United Chiba -- through an own goal.

ends

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